A longtime Republican stronghold, California’s 50th Congressional District became a potential Democratic pickup when Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) was indicted in August on charges of campaign finance violations. The five-term incumbent and his wife have pleaded not guilty. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) still issued a statement that said Hunter would be removed from his committee assignments.
The 41-year-old Hunter’s woes have created an opening for Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, a district native and former Obama administration staffer. Despite Republicans’ 14-point voter registration advantage and President Trump’s winning the district by 15 percentage points in 2016, Campa-Najjar, 29, has pulled close to Hunter. A late September poll from the UC Berkeley Institution of Governmental Studies showed Hunter’s lead within the margin of error.
Hunter, whose father held the congressional seat before him, has responded to the tightening race by going negative. He has suggested Campa-Najjar is a “radical Muslim” and claimed he posed a threat to national security because his grandfather was linked with a terrorist attack. Campa-Najjar, who is a Christian and held a government security clearance, has condemned his relative’s actions and pointed out that his grandfather died 16 years before he was born.
Voters in the district are most concerned with immigration, healthcare, gun laws and the economy, according to the poll. Below is an overview of the candidates’ views on the issues. Except where noted, Campa-Najjar’s remarks are from a recorded interview he gave the San Diego Union-Tribune and Hunter’s remarks are from a speech he gave to a Republican women’s group in Ramona in September, recorded by the Times of San Diego.
- Supports building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
- Wants to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the visa lottery system.
- “Why do people think they deserve to be Americans? Why do you think you deserve to come here? The answer is, you don't."
- Opposes "sanctuary" laws and said last year he wouldn't request federal funds for states, cities and universities with a policy that would not comply with enforcement of federal immigration laws.
- Wants to improve and mandate the E-Verify system for confirming employment eligibility.
- Supports a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.
- “I’m not for abolishing [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] but we have to reform it. ... There are clear abuses, and there’s just no way of looking around it and it’s because we have a president who has tried to demonize certain communities for his own gain.”
- Called Trump's travel ban that includes six majority-Muslim nations "immoral and unconstitutional" in an interview with the Hill.
- “I want to do Medicare for all, but ... if we can’t find the right financial structure for it or if we can’t find bipartisanship, what I want to do is go back to what LBJ envisioned for Medicare, which was 50 and older, but the way I want to fund that is if you’re 50 to 64 years old that you could have a buy-in option.”
- "Trump understands that the only way to fix something that is so broken as our system is to break it totally."
- “The Justice Department is corrupt, and that should scare you out of your minds. ... You want to talk about election meddling? We’re the ones that election-meddle. Thank God that [Trump] won. Because the economy’s humming.”
- Has said he doesn't have enough information to determine whether Trump should be impeached.
- "What do I like about Donald Trump? He speaks his mind. What I don’t like about Donald Trump? He speaks his mind."
- Voted for the 2017 tax changes, which included a cap on the deduction for state and local income and property taxes that affected high-income Californians, and for the bill that made the caps permanent.
- “I support local efforts to repeal the gas tax [increase] instituted by the California Legislature and on the federal level have consistently voted to cut taxes, eliminate overbearing government regulations and streamline policies that hamper business growth and investment."
- Supports repealing the gas-tax increase: "I think if you want to rebuild our infrastructure, I don’t think you tax the truck driver who makes a living at the pump. ... I think you tax the people who are getting tax subsidies in billions of dollars a year."
- Has said he doesn't want to tax the middle class or raise the national debt.
- Among his solutions is the elimination of a tax provision known as the stepped-up basis loophole that allows individuals to pass assets to heirs without paying taxes on the assets' appreciated value.